Objectual Understanding, Propositional Understanding and Their Relation

Document Type : Original Article


Institute for Science and Technology Studies, Shahid Beheshti University



The distinction between propositional and objectual understanding is one among others pertaining to understanding. While the object of the former is a fact, the object of the latter is a theory, a system, an entity, a concept, a model, a property, or a collection of phenomena. The question at issue, however, is how these two kinds of understanding are related. Specifically, is the latter reducible to the former? Or is objectual understanding more than and above propositional understanding? In this article, I will first introduce and elaborate on some accounts that support some sort of anti-reductionism. I will then engage with one of the most detailed critiques against anti-reductionism, i.e. Kareem Khalifa’s one, and evaluate its scope of validity. After proposing an account of understanding in which scientific representation plays a key role, I discuss, finally, whether the reductionism within this account is tenable.


Main Subjects